Mamoru prides himself on differing from the norm, employing a range of filmmaking and storytelling elements that are different from the standard Hollywood blockbuster. In particular Mamoru believes that the visual and graphical elements of the film are more important than storyline, or characters. Mamoru aims to create an immersive and detailed world that catches the viewers attention and causes them to be even more invested in the storyline. Mamoru has said previously that the films he makes are to create a 'feeling' rather than a story. In essence Mamoru aims to carry similar themes throughout all of his films, almost as though he has a signature brand of animation. This can be seen in every element of his works.
The Use Of Contrast: Cover Art
Dallos' cover is a tell-all, without watching the film viewers can get an instant overview of the themes and storylines. The contrast of distance between the main character and the moon illustrates the relationship between the main character and the moon-colony. The comparative size of the two can show the power struggle that the main character has, between going his own path and sticking to tradition. This contrast imparts a feeling on the viewer that carries throughout the film. The theme of power, isolation and deviation from the norm are featured heavily in Mamoru's works. Growing up in Japan and regularly engaging in anti-government protests (to the disapproval of his parents) has no doubt influenced his choice to include these themes in his work. Many have noted that the anti-infrastructure mentality is one part of the 'brand' of animation that Mamoru makes, and it serves as the base for most of his' storywriting.
Symbolism: Creating A Dreamworld
The most common element among Mamoru films is a 'dreamlike' feeling that viewers get while watching. This is influenced by a range of factors, but it's no secret that this dream-state is there on purpose; It's immersive, it draws viewers in and makes them engage with the film on a deeper level, and it leaves a lasting impression. In order to create this dreamworld Mamoru uses symbolism in an intricate way. Instead of using traditional Japanese characters in backgrounds, he blends Japanese and Chinese writing so that viewers can almost understand the writing, but there's still something foreign and unknown about each scene.
This distant, dream-like feeling is a signature for Mamoru. If you were to watch each film without dialogue, it's no doubt that this theme would still be noticeable, as it isn't based in story or characters, but something deeper. It's constructed from the very way that Mamoru designs scenes, transitions and films. Every detail from the opening scene to the final credits is meant to carry this feeling.
Carrying a brand: An Expert's Perspective
To further explore how Mamoru manages to maintain his signature theme through all of his' works we sat down with Juliet, Creative Director of Perth-based branding agency Luminosity. Juliet is as an expert in brand strategy, and we discussed everything from logo and graphic design to branding. Juliet shared her love of film with us and explained how Mamoru's choice to carry a familiar theme through all of his works is common among designers. 'Although the works are different, there's common elements to each, and you use these common elements as your signature as both a storyteller and designer'. What's more the choice to create similar feel in each film means that Mamoru's fanbase will only grow with time. Even though the story of each film may change, Mamoru carries something deeper throughout which means that viewers get a sense of familiarity with each one of his' works. Juliet mentioned 'All brands aim to do this, even though you may have child-companies or seperate products, you carry similar visual elements that the viewer can familiarise themselves with. These elements give your customer a sense of comfort.' Apple, Google & Virgin are all real-world examples of this. A plethora of sub-companies, and sub-products yet there's similar elements to each. This often-overlooked idea 'familiarity' is something noticeable on Mamoru's works, and it's not unrealistic to say it's why he has a cult-like following.